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Sailing tourism in Scotland: final report


Sailing has a potential key role in economic development and is particularly important in generating impact for remote rural areas. The report aimed to establish the current contribution that the sailing tourism sector makes to the Scottish economy and to highlight the potential there is within the sector for investment in new ‘product’ to grow Gross Value Added (GVA) impact. The study reviewed the scale and profile of the national sailing tourism sector in Scotland. It also aimed to test and confirm the various assumptions and anecdotal evidence to date that have partially informed the debate surrounding the sailing sector.


The methodology consisted of: an audit of existing facilities; operator consultations to assess the current level and profile of demand; a nationwide consumer research survey with Scottish resident berth owners, visiting boat owners and potential resident or visiting boat owners; boat ownership data collection from the British Marine Federation; discussions with the relevant intermediaries and agencies, boat charter companies, council planning departments; and an assessment and modelling of current and potential future demand levels. 170 in-depth interviews with those active in the sector were undertaken.


The sailing tourism sector has grown continually over the last decade and a half and there is no major downturn evident within the sector. The sailing tourism market accounts for £101 million of expenditure per year in Scotland and supports over 2,700 FTE jobs. Non-Scottish boat owners contribute 27% of the total (£27m) and support 724 FTE jobs. The occupancy levels of residential home port berths are extremely high and at virtually maximum capacity. The report suggests that development of infrastructure and services could potentially increase the market to £145m after 10 years. Scotland is not a homogenous sailing destination and the issues affecting each of the main sailing areas vary dramatically. The report suggests that the Clyde demonstrates a pre-eminence as a base for home port berthing and the west is the centre of visiting boat activity. The report finds that latent potential exists within the sector and it could increase the contribution it makes to the national economy.


The report recommends that each area of Scotland should determine its own development strategy and prioritisations relevant to its current position and the available opportunities. A number of issues will need to be addressed to unlock the market’s potential, including the level, range and quality of infrastructure for home port boats and Scottish and tourist-owned visiting boats. The focus of future development should be on the Clyde and the west, and to a lesser extent the north. SE may consider the elevation of Sailing Tourism to membership of its strategic tourism product portfolio and an industry-led body could facilitate taking forward any agreed development strategies for the sector. In order to compete in the marketplace, Scotland should actively target promotion at those sectors and geographies that offer the greatest opportunities and consider strategies that will encourage visiting boats from outside Scotland.

Author Tourism Resource Company; EKOS; British Marine Federation
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
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